Glyphosate is one of the most widely used broad-spectrum herbicides around the globe. The major application for glyphosate products is agriculture, but in some countries it is also used to control unwanted weeds in gardens, and on non-cultivated areas, such as industrial complexes and along railway tracks.
Glyphosate is used to control a variety of plants in agriculture and gardening, on grasslands and in aquatic environments. More than a hundred glyphosate herbicides from more than 40 different companies are currently registered for sale in Europe. Although the main global market for glyphosate is agriculture, glyphosate is also used to improve visibility and manage weed growth on non-cultivated areas such as railway tracks and verges.
Glyphosate interferes with the enzymatic production of certain amino acids that are essential for plant growth. This pathway exists only in plants, fungi and bacteria, which contributes to the low toxicity of glyphosate to animals.
The molecule “glyphosate” was already discovered in 1950 and patented by Monsanto in the early 1970s as the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup®. In agriculture, glyphosate was first developed for weed control in stubbles in all crops. Later its use was extended to include additional applications including pre-harvest in cereals and oilseed crops.